Sunday, 5 October 2008

Swooping - Only for Experienced Skydivers

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The thrill of skydiving, for someone new to the sport, involves various elements. The first is probably the pre-experience exhiliration - knowing the week before that you are going to jump out of a perfectly functioning aeroplane, for no reason other than to get a kick. I am sure the Martians watching still question our sanity at times!

The second, if you have not flown in a light aircraft, is the experience of taking off and climbing up to your jump altitude. Depending on the configuration of the jump plane, you may either have no view of the ground, or you will slowly see landmarks on the ground becoming VERY small. I guess both build up the adrenalin levels!

Finally, with the door open and the wind rushing past the plane, you take the big plunge and start the actual experience - about 40 seconds of freefall and a canopy ride down to the relative safety of the ground.

If you thought that was it for your first jump, you are spot on. However, as with any sport, that is just the beginning and there are many opportunities for you to up the adrenalin stakes once a 'normal' jump doesn't clear those cobwebs anymore.

One of these is something called Swooping. Only for very experience Skydivers, the object of this exercise is to approach the ground/water with as much speed as possible and then glide across the surface for as long as possible.

As a variation of the sport, skydivers often do this over a pond or body of water and drag their feet in the water as the speed bleeds off. In fact this has become so popular that it has now evolved into a competitive sport. Participants have to cover a course on the surface, navigating around a number of obstacles.

Anything close to the ground, at high speed, sounds like loads of fun, but as always things can quite easily go pear-shaped. Therefore, this is another one of those extreme sports that comes with the label, "Do not try this at home". In fact, this sport is only for experience skydivers and even then, broken bones are not uncommon when conditions aren't optimal or the Swooper misjudges the approach.

For more information on Swooping, check out

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